On Your Side: Save money on air conditioning

Home electricity bills can rise by hundreds of dollars during the summer months, thanks to abuse and over-use of central air conditioning units. (MGN)

With a serious summer heat wave approaching Central Ohio, you’ll want to make sure your home air conditioner is in good working order. And once that’s accomplished — learn how to use it a little less!

Home electricity bills can rise by hundreds of dollars during the summer months, thanks to abuse and over-use of central air conditioning units. The powerful machines will run as much as they need to, in order to achieve and maintain your desired indoor temperature.

“We want folks to know that they can take some of this into their own hands,” says Ohio’s Development Services director, David Goodman. “I know that I fight with my wife over a degree. There’s a big difference in my house between 72 and 71 degrees.”

But if you can stand that extra degree or two, the difference in temperature can translate to dozens of dollars saved on your bill. Another tip is to invest in a programmable thermostat. Especially in older homes, the ability to set a thermostat slightly warmer during the day when no one is home, makes all the difference.

The alternative helps no one when your house is empty — and it gets expensive.

“You’re spending a lot more money, and you’re taxing the grid a little bit more — because you have the temperature down below what you really need it to be,” Goodman points out.

The Development Services Agency provides other helpful tips, including:

  • Set your thermostat as high as is comfortable
  • Set the fan switch on your thermostat to “Auto,” not constantly “On”
  • Clean or replace filters on air conditioners regularly
  • Keep your curtains or blinds closed to block the sun’s heat
  • Use a ceiling fan. Make sure it is turning in a counterclockwise direction to create a wind chill effect
  • Don’t forget to turn off the fan when you aren’t in the room
  • Turn off the lights, TVs, and computers or devices when you’re not using them to avoid extra heat sources

If you use all those tips, but running the air conditioning still breaks the bank for you and your family, there are state and federal programs based on your income, such as HEAP, that can help pay your energy bills year-round.

The website energyhelp.ohio.gov provides more information on those subsidies, and you can find out if you qualify for the programs by calling toll-free to (800) 282-0880.

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